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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Native-plant pros identify "go-to" natives


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Manzanita deserves a spot in every garden that has room for a small shrub. Its flowers attract hummingbirds in winter, and the evergreen leaves and reddish bark offer year-round beauty.

In an attempt to find which natives the professionals rely on, I asked several local landscape architects and designers to list their “favorite three to five natives to plant in someone else’s yard.” These plants wouldn’t all be appropriate everywhere, but most suburban native landscapes include quite a few of them.

Following is Part 1 of their answers. Part 2 will appear in next month’s “Native Plants” column.

Not surprisingly, everyone’s list included a manzanita.

Dr. Hurd Manzanita (or his hybrid baby brother, Austin Griffiths) is landscape designer Deva Luna’s choice. It’s “the quintessential California specimen” shrub or small tree, she said, known for its beautiful “peeling red bark contrasting with gray-green leaves and winter flowers.”

Landscape designer Agi Kehoe said her favorite is Sentinel Manzanita, because it’s “one of the earliest-blooming and most garden-tolerant manzanitas, with year-round interest.” She likes to prune its lower branches “to accentuate the gorgeous mahogany branch structure and underplant it with summer-blooming groundcovers such as Point St. George Coast Aster and blue-green bunch grasses.”

Howard McMinn Manzanita “puts on a show when not much else is blooming with an attractive display of bell-shaped flowers in late winter,” said landscape architect Stephanie Morris. It “looks great in all seasons” and “makes a great foundation plant,” she added. As it gets older, it can be trimmed to show the reddish bark.

Landscape architect Sherri Osaka also chose Howard McMinn Manzanita for its “beautiful blooms in the winter when the hummingbirds really need them.” In addition, once established, it’s “tolerant of garden watering or no watering,” she said.

Coffeeberries are “nice evergreen shrubs that fit into every landscape and are especially good for screening neighbors’ yards, yet they produce beautiful berries for the birds” and tolerate a range of watering and sun/shade conditions, Osaka said. She recommended all the popular cultivars: Eve Case, Mound San Bruno and Leatherleaf.

Yankee Point Ceanothus offers “lush, dark-green foliage that is attractive year-round, with pale-blue spring flowers. It spreads 6 to 8 feet or more and makes a great mass planting for a large space,” Morris said.

Kehoe nominated Pink-Flowering Currant, “a fast-growing deciduous shrub for dry shade (such as under oaks or along a shady fence)” that offers year-round interest with “pleasing, light-green fragrant foliage and showy flowers in early spring for the hummingbirds and native bees, edible fruit to share with the birds in summer” and “attractive reddish or golden fall foliage.” She plants it as a specimen or between shade-tolerant evergreen shrubs such as Coffeeberry, Toyon or Hollyleaf Cherry.

California Goldenrod is invaluable for its “showy summer color” and provides habitat “for butterflies and beneficial insects,” Kehoe said. It “spreads easily by underground rhizomes to create a large swath but won’t grow too fast if not overwatered,” she noted.

To contact these landscape professionals and see examples of their work, visit their webpages: Luna at earthcareland.com; Kehoe at agikehoe.com; Morris at nativeplantdesign.com; and Osaka at sustainable-landscape.com.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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